There are a lot of different ways to create a training schedule. Especially in the body building scene, athletes use many different ways to exercise. What is the most effective way for your goals? And how do you fit your training into your (busy) life schedule? In this article, we will have a look at 5 different types of training schedules.
What is a Training Schedule?
Training schedules, also known as a training splits, usually refer to a weekly frame of training routines based on your goals, availability, experience and recovery needs. Unfortunately, there is not a “one size fits all” principle. To maximize your results, you need to have a personalized training schedule that really fits your needs and circumstances. There are many different training splits.
We will discuss the 5 main training schedules. These 5 are full body, push-pull, push-pull-legs, upper-lower and the body part split. We will discuss the framework of the training, pros and cons and an give you advice from our perspective on how to use these different types of training schedule.
Full Body Training Schedule
A full body training schedule is perfect for people who are new to exercising and for people with a very busy lifestyle. It involves training every major muscle group of the body 3 times a week. Every workout is based on 6 to 8 exercises for 3 to 6 sets and one exercise per body part. There is a day or rest between every training session. Here is an example of a full body training schedule:
Monday: Full body
Wednesday: Full body
Friday: Full body
Pros for a full body schedule
- It is time efficient. You can hit every single body part 3 times a week with just 3 training sessions. For people with a busy lifestyle this can be a solution that still guarantees good make progress.
- It is good for beginners. When you just start with training, most of your gains will be achieved because of an adaptation of your central nervous system. You teach your body to be active and utilize more muscle fibers, rather than realizing physical gains in fiber size and strength. This requires greater frequency, and since the volume of work is so low, this workout should ideally be repeated three times per week, with 48 hours between workouts.
- Evidence shows that a full body workout is very effective for fat loss and increasing strength and growth hormone production.
- It ensures enough time for recovery, which is especially important for beginners.
Cons for full body schedule
- Less metabolic stress for an individual muscle group per training, which is necessary for hypertrophy.
- When you get stronger and start lifting heavier weights, it will become harder to recover fast enough to hit the same muscle group 48 hours later again.
- If you train more then 3 times a week, you can’t give your body enough rest to recover.
- Longer individual training sessions.
Advice on a full body schedule
We absolutely recommend full body training for people who are just starting to exercise, want to improve their strength, lose weight and/or have a busy life. It is important to hit every body part at least twice a week to make real progress. A full body training schedule is a very easy way to achieve that.
Push-Pull Training Schedule
A push-pull schedule is great when you want to train more than 3 times a week or train twice a day. With a push pull schedule, you have two types of workouts: a pull and a push workout. In the pull workout, you will mainly hit the posterior chain of the body (upper (trapezius) and lower (erector spinea) back, legs (hamstrings), biceps, glutes). This part of the body is mostly responsible for a lot of pull movements. Pulling exercises like pull ups, rows, deadlifts, hamstring curls, hip thrusters will be integrated in the pull workout.
The push workout hits most of the anterior chain of the body (pectoralis, shoulders, triceps, legs (quadriceps), calves). This part of the body is mostly responsible for a lot of push movements. Push exercises like push-ups, dips, squats, skull crushers and calf raises will be integrated in the push workout. Every workout is based on around 6 to 8 exercises for 3 to 6 sets and 1 or 2 exercises per body part. Here’s an example of a push-pull training schedule:
Pros for a push-pull schedule
- Bigger volumes per training, which will increase metabolic stress.
- Higher training frequency. With a push-pull schedule you can hit every body part at least every 72 hours, which will maximize your results on hypertrophy and strength.
- You can use micro cycles in your training schedule. For example, the first training of the week can be a high repetition pull training (Endurance/hypertrophy) and the third training of the week a low rep pull training (strength).
- It gives you the option to train 2 days in a row.
Cons for a push-pull schedule
- This schedule is a bit advanced for beginners who still need to learn the exercises and make gains on their central nervous system.
- The schedule requires more of your time because of a higher frequency of training.
Advice on a push-pull schedule
We recommend a push-pull training schedule for advanced athletes. This schedule will let you target every body part at least twice a week with a bigger volume per training than a full body schedule. You also have more freedom to train because it is possible to train every day. With a push and pull workout, you have two workouts in which you can target the opposite muscle of your previous workout so you will never interrupt your recovery. The fact that you have at least two training sessions of each workout type every week also makes it possible to train with different intensity per workout (micro cycle). Because of this, we think that a lot of people will achieve good results with this type of training schedule.
Push-Pull-Legs Training Schedule
In the push-pull-legs training schedule you split your body into three parts. And each part is then trained on a separate day. In the push-workout, you train the entire upper body pushing muscles (chest, shoulders and triceps). In the pull-workout, you train the entire upper body pulling muscles (back and biceps). And in the leg-workout, you train the entire lower body (the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and abdominals). Every workout is based on 4 to 6 exercises for 3 or 4 sets and 1 or 2 exercises per body part. Here’s an example of a push-pull-legs training schedule:
Pros Push-Pull-Legs training schedule
- You can spread out the total weight volume across several training sessions. That way, you can keep each training session short.
- You can use microcycles in your training schedule.
- You can target every muscle group more frequently with a higher weight volume.
Cons Push-Pull-Legs training schedule
- It costs a lot of time if you want to target every group twice a week (6 training moments a week).
- Less time for recovery for the central nervous system. Yes, you will not hit the same body part the next day but you will still stimulate your central nerve system several days in a row. This will make it harder to generate maximum strength.
- It is easier to get injured because of the amount of load per week.
Advice on a Push-Pull-Legs training schedule
We only recommend the push-pull-legs training schedule for athletes with a lot of training experience. It is important that you “listen to your body” when it comes to resting and that you do not train with too much volume per training session. We do not recommend this type of training schedule to beginners and people with less time.
Upper-Lower Body Training Schedule
The idea of an upper-lower body training schedule is simple. An upper-lower split is a workout routine that splits the training of upper and lower parts of your body. You do upper-body exercises on one day and lower-body exercises the other day. Every workout is based on 4 to 6 exercises for 3 or 4 sets and 1 or 2 exercises per body part. Here’s an example of a upper-lower body training schedule:
Monday: Upper body
Tuesday: Lower body
Thursday: Upper body
Friday: Lower body
Pros Upper-lower body training schedule
- Upper-lower body training splits are a great next-step from a full body training.
- It is an easy way to increase volume per training and frequency per week.
- Works well for most people that want to gain size and strength concurrently.
Cons Upper-Lower body training schedule
- It takes more of your time because of a higher frequency of training.
- With open chain exercises, you use a lot of muscles in the upper and lower body. This can give problems when you still have sore muscles from the day before. For example, if you want to perform a bent-over row and you still have muscle pain in your hamstrings, it will be very hard to get the best out of your exercise.
Advice on an upper-lower body training schedule
The upper-lower body training schedule is a good follow-up to a full body training schedule. It is more advanced. If you want to put a bigger volume in your individual training session and a higher training frequency during the week, the upper-lower body training schedule will be great for you.
Body Part Split Training Schedule
Body part split training schedules are used a lot in the body building world. During a training session, you will focus on one specific body part. Each muscle group will be targeted throughout the week in 5 to 6 training sessions. Every workout is based on 4 to 6 exercises of 3 or 4 sets. Here’s an example of a body part split training schedule:
Friday: Arms and abs
Pros body part split training schedule
- There’s a bigger “pump” because of the big volume on one specific body part.
- No sore muscles in the body part that you will train during your next workout.
- More specific exercises per body part.
Cons body part split training schedule
- Low training frequency per muscle group per week.
- Possibly too much rest before hitting a specific muscle group again.
- Costs a lot of time.
Advice on a body part split training schedule
We do not recommend body part split training schedules because it is impossible to hit every muscle group sufficiently. To gain mass and strength in a particular muscle, you need to have your next training session for that muscle group in 48 to 72 hours. If you do a body part split training schedule, you will target each body part only once a week so you will never reach your goals.
Which of the Training Schedules do I Choose?
There are a lot of different training schedules based on different principles. We highly recommend full body, push-pull and upper-lower body training schedules. But the most important thing is that the training schedule fits your personal needs and goals. A training schedule needs to be personalized to get the best results. So if you have any doubt about the best schedule for you or you have specific needs, please do not hesitate to contact us. We want to help you achieve the best results possible and will be happy to create a truly personalized schedule for you.